Every 4 years, an event comes upon us which brings unmitigated (mostly) joy. It’s the FIFA World Cup (of football [or soccer if you’re bloody minded]), and this year it’s being held in the spiritual home of the game, Brazil. This is the equivalent of (and this is as strong of an analogy as I can muster) having a Christmas party in the exact spot where the nativity of Jesus happened. I cannot express the happiness that comes with every World Cup for me. For a month, I feel young again, connected to the millions of fans of the sport in the world. I feel more African, I feel more keenly aware of justice, I feel like a human.
This may sound completely insane to you, like I’ve lost all perspective. In a sense, you’re right, though I haven’t lost all perspective. This World Cup (and the next two) are fraught with moral perils and I’m not unaware of them. Moreover, as with everything when you get older, I am aware of the creeping rot and corruption at the heart of the FIFA itself. I could go into gory detail, but John Oliver has done a much better job than I can:
You’ll note the final words of the clip serve to remind how even all that knowledge doesn’t dampen the love for the event. That’s what I’m talking about. I set out to write a paean to the World Cup, but frankly, I can’t find words to do that. Instead I’ll point you at any video you can find of fan reactions. The looks on their faces do a better job than anyone could do of describing the emotions associated with the Cup.